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Windows phones and Marketplace launched

Windows Mobile 6.5 and new handsets arrive in UK

HTC HD2 Windows mobile phone

Microsoft has announced the global launch of a range of mobile phones, branded ‘Windows phones’, with a varied range of styles and prices.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, said: ‘We all want to connect quickly to the people and information that’s important to us from across our lives at work and at home. A Windows phone lets people take their entire world of digital information, communications, applications and entertainment with them wherever they go.’

The Windows phones are claimed to offer a familiar Windows environment that consumers will be able to identify with from their PC desktop.

Which? has more than 180 mobile phone reviews including handsets from LG, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

As part of the Windows phone launch, the Windows Mobile operating system has been upgrade to version 6.5, and there are a number of new features.

Windows Live has been enhanced to give ‘What’s new’ feeds and what Microsoft claims is an improved photo sharing service across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Flickr.

There are enhancements to Outlook email, with the ability to manage multiple email accounts. Microsoft Office Mobile allows Windows phone users to user PowerPoint and open and edit Word and Excel documents.

And the Windows Internet Explorer mobile browser has been redesigned and now offers Adobe Flash Lite for multimedia animated and video content.

Windows MyPhone

Also debuting on Windows phones is the MyPhone service that automatically synchronises phone data with a password-protected website. MyPhone lets users manage and back-up mobile information such as contacts, appointments, texts, media and photos. 

The basic MyPhone service is free, but there’s also a Premium package that will offer advanced ‘lost phone’ features, including the ability to track the location of your mobile, and remotely lock the mobile if required.

Windows Marketplace

Also new is the Windows Marketplace – Microsoft’s answer to the iTunes App Store and the Google Android Market. Despite launching with only 60 mobile apps in the UK, according to Microsoft this number is set to increase rapidly in the immediate future. The company says that all apps are certified to run on Windows phones and are backed by a simple returns policy.

Read our guides to the iTunes App Store and the Google Android Market.

Windows phone buyers can also create personalised themes for their mobile, by choosing colours and designs online at www.windowsphone.com/theme.

Windows mobile phones

As for the Windows phones themselves, one of the selling points that Microsoft is keen to emphasise is consumer choice and customisation. Windows phones will come from a wide range of manufacturers, and there will be both touchscreen handsets, mobiles with Qwerty keyboards, and some handsets with both keyboards and touchscreen interfaces.

According to Microsoft, the following mobile phones will be the first Windows phones available to buy in the UK:

  • HTC Touch HD II (pictured) on O2 available to buy from Carphone Warehouse
  • LG GM750 on Vodafone
  • Samsung Omnia II and Samsung Omnia Lite available to buy from Carphone Warehouse
  • Samsung Omnia Pro (B7730) available to buy from Carphone Warehouse from 30 October
  • Sony Ericsson X2 on Vodafone 

In addition, owners of the HTC Touch Diamond II, HTC Touch Pro II, HTC Snap S552 and Toshiba TG01 will be able to upgrade from Windows Mobile 6.1 to 6.5.

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